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Resolution would proclaim county as pro-life

At Monday’s meeting of the Surry County Board of Commissioners, the board will consider a non-binding resolution that would affirm the county’s pro-life stance. Supporters have been asking for a resolution that would proclaim the county as a sanctuary for life and the vote be the culmination of those efforts.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court decision that tossed Roe v. Wade just shy of its 50th anniversary, there is no uniform abortion policy from state to state. North Carolina still allows abortions before week 20 and Gov. Cooper said in July the state would not seek to prosecute women crossing state lines from a state where it is illegal to have an abortion.

The county’s position statement will reflect that while legal in the state, Surry County discourages the practice of abortion as all life from the very moment of conception deserves protection.

Similar resolutions have been passed in area counties and the Surry County resolution is a variation on the one Wilkes County, along with their legal team, put together and passed in 2021.

It begins, “A resolution of the Surry County Board of Commissioners to be a strong advocate for life and urging the citizens of the county to promote and defend the unalienable right to life and the inherent dignity of all human beings, including the unborn, from conception or fertilization through all stages of development.”

The statement is an expression of belief from the five men of the county commissioners that finds its basis with the writing of James Madison, “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands…may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

“The federal judiciary has, in the opinion of the Board of Commissioners, accumulated and exercised powers far in excess of its proper role under the United States Constitution in its rulings concerning the rights of the unborn,” the resolution states.

The resolution goes on to cite the Declaration of Independence with the line learned from childhood, “All men are created equal and have been endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” the Declaration begins.

“That among these are life, liberty, the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor, and the pursuit of happiness,” Article I of the Constitution of North Carolina concludes, with a subtle language tweak to the commonly known thread from the Declaration. Those statements affirm, supporters say, the right to life for the conceived.

Critics may say this is a waste of time, but Chairman Eddie Harris said the voters have a right to know how their elected officials feel about such a polarizing issue. He also noted Surry would be joining in with other counties who have already passed such a resolution such as Davie, Wilkes, Yadkin, and Ashe Counties.

There is also legal precedent for the county to pursue such a non-binding resolution as found in the ruling of Poelker v. Doe in 1977. In that case it was concluded that “the Constitution does not forbid a State or city, pursuant to democratic processes, from expressing a preference for normal childbirth.”

With such guidance in hand, the commissioners’ statement of belief reads in part:

“The Surry County Board of Commissioners desires to express its strong feeling and deep concern that all human beings in the County of Surry, at every stage of development, including before birth, should be afforded protection from acts of cruelty, and be treated humanely and with dignity.

“They further declare the county be a strong advocate for life and to urge the county’s citizens to promote and defend the unalienable right to life and the inherent dignity of all human beings, including the unborn, from conception or fertilization through all stages of development… and resolves to use all means within its power to support the sanctity of human life in accordance with its God-given responsibilities as the peoples’ elected governing body.”

Sunshine Gillam works with families at Lifeline Pregnancy Center in Elkin and supports the potential resolution. Lifeline offers counseling services to women and help in determining if she is pregnant, how far along, and what her options are. While they do not perform or refer for abortions, they do recognize that it is an option some women may be forced to consider.

“We have seen the ravages of abortion and we are seeing increases in women who are abortion minded and determined because states around us have abolished or have heartbeat laws. So, we are seeing more clients come across state lines,” she told the board.

Speaking in support of the measure at a prior meeting, Jason Johnson told the board he was in favor or protecting children. “I was born in Surry County. I am glad to have had the opportunity to be born. I’m glad we weren’t aborted, I’m glad we weren’t murdered.”

Protecting the innocent is, “The right thing to do and the Christian thing to do,” Mitch Calloway told the board.

Commissioners Larry Johnson, Bill Goins, and Mark Marion have said they firmly supported the resolution and were anti-abortion but offered a more nuanced approach to abortion.

Johnson has stated his belief that there are some circumstances when abortion may be necessary. “There are some exceptions where abortion could very well be the best choice, and it’s just a few such as mother’s life, possibly rape and incest, but I know there are other avenues too that can be discussed such as adoption. I want people to know that’s how I feel, and that’s my faith, and I am pro-life. This, in general, is a good resolution.”

“There are different perspectives,” Goins said. While he is firmly pro-life, his years in the classrooms colored his point of view and allows him to see some shades of gray. “I worked in a field where I saw some of the negatives of some of the things we talked about such as rape, incest, health of the mother.”

“This says we are pro-life and that we protect our innocent children, which is the most precious commodity on the face of the Earth,” Marion said. “I agree, there are exceptions.”

“I have lived to see these exceptions happen. Once that stuff happens to a young child or teenager, that messes with them for the rest of their lives. This is a good resolution and is far better than what I read the first time, but I wanted it to be known I had the same feelings as the others.”

Harris has stated he anticipates a large crowd to come in support of the measure Monday evening. Meetings with lots of interest in the past have exceeded fire capacity and resident have been turned away, so the county reminds that meetings are broadcast online in real time.



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